United States and European Union Antitrust Agencies Issue "Best Practices" for Coordinating Merger Reviews

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Federal Trade Commission Chairman Timothy Muris, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division Charles A. James, and European Union (EU) Competition Commissioner Mario Monti today released a set of "best practices" for coordinating future merger reviews. The best practices were developed by a joint working group of staff lawyers and economists from the three agencies.

The objectives of the best practices are to enhance cooperation between the U.S. antitrust agencies and the European Commission (EC) in merger review, minimize the risk of divergent outcomes, and reduce burdens on parties participating in merger investigations. Many of the best practices have been in place informally for a long time. Formal adoption of the best practices will increase transparency and provide important guidance to all participants in the process.

"These best practices demonstrate the commitment of the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and the European Commission to make the cross-border merger review process work as efficiently and effectively as possible, fostering deeper cooperation and convergence," said FTC Chairman Muris. "Today's action complements bilateral and multilateral measures we have been pursuing in other fora, as well as the workshops the FTC has held to improve our own merger review procedures."

The best practices recommend that investigative staffs establish schedules for conferring with each other and encourage senior antitrust officials in the United States and the EU to engage in discussions at key moments of one another's investigations. They also offer merging parties a meeting at an early point in each review to discuss timing issues. In addition, the best practices encourage joint interviews of parties and third parties, where appropriate, and provide for increased coordination with respect to remedies.

These best practices evolved from the work done by the U.S.-EU Merger Working Group, a group of lawyers and economists from the Federal Trade Commission, the Antitrust Division, and the EC devoted to promoting convergence between the United States and the EU on merger policy. During the past year, this group focused on the details of each agency's merger review process and explored one another's policies toward conglomerate mergers. During the next year, the Merger Working Group will concentrate on competitive effects in oligopolistic markets and the evaluation of efficiencies.

Copies of the newly released best practices will be available shortly from the FTC's Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop and avoid them. To file a complaint, or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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